Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lost Worlds

The above photograph was posted by Ondine and is from a collection of photos she rescued from a house clearance. I love photos like this, they are so evocative of not only time and place but sensibilities and attitudes too. The first thing that strikes my eyes are the beautiful colours that vintage emulsions like Kodachrome and Polaroid produce. They have a softness which, whilst inaccurate and therefore technically wrong have a quality that immediately transports us to this time (I'm assuming the 1960s, perhaps 70s).

Those of us who weren't around then tend to assume that this is what the world looked like, much as we think of the early parts of the last century as being black and white. Every photograph has the soft yellowish wash of colour where nothing is too bright and nothing plunges into full black. It's warming and comforting in a way, even for someone who has no personal connection to the photograph.

There's also the sense of modernity and glamour about it, which in this day and age where air travel has become ubiquitous and a chore we have lost. I can't imagine anyone taking a photo of an airport terminal in this almost reverential way now, it would be like photographing a supermarket or shopping centre. Everything here looks so clean, so new, so optimistic. The clean lines of the concrete have not yet become stained by years of grime and dirt, dulled by the elements and all of these elegant, forward looking structures service the plane that is the focus of the woman's attention. Once again I can't imagine many people getting too excited about seeing a plane now, we strive to avoid them where at all possible. Perhaps that's not quite true, they are still fearsomely impressive pieces of technical ingenuity and engineering but they are strictly functional now, they are not objects of beauty or wonder anymore.

I am sometimes a little sad how blasé we are these days about technology and photographs like this, which are examples of the ingenuity of the human mind in themselves, can throw a spotlight and reveal a world and an attitude which we've lost for the most part. And that, I think, is worth remembering.


Blogger Ondine said...

I was thinking the same thing about air travel while looking at this photo the other day - how to us, particularly with all of the terrorist alerts, traveling is not a glamorous thing anymore - something you'd like to commemorate by wearing your best clothes and taking a picture.

2:21 pm  

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